Glasgow Film Festival 2015 programme announced

With the full line-up for the 2015 Glasgow Film Festival unveiled, we take a look at some of the highlights, from screenings at pop-up roller discos to new films from Ruben Östlund and Noah Baumbach.

Feature by News Team | 21 Jan 2015

Eleven months ago Glasgow Film Festival opened with a bang in the form of Wes Anderson’s effervescent charmer The Grand Budapest Hotel (a film that’s still going strong as it enters the Oscar race with nine nominations). Will this year’s opening film While We’re Young, the latest from Anderson’s old mucker Noah Baumbach (he co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr. Fox) prove as popular? The excellent advance word (the Guardian’s Catherine Shoard called it “Baumbach's best, and funniest, in a decade”) suggests a resounding yes.

Be sure not to mention Oscars around Ruben Östlund, director of Force Majeure, this year’s festival closer. The Swede reacted rather badly to his Alps-set psychodrama missing out on a best foreign film nomination (by badly we mean breaking down in tears and tearing his clothes off). But he shouldn’t worry: this prickly gem will be remembered long after the likes of The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have faded from our memory.

Between these blackly comic bookends, the festival is brimming with filmmaking talent. There’s Clouds of Sils Maria, the latest from French stalwart Olivier Assayas, who looks to be back in Irma Vep territory with another examination of stardom. The film focuses on the relationship between a movie star (played by Juliette Binoche) tempted back to the stage to revive the part that launched her career and her young assistant (Kristen Stewart), and reports are that Assayas’ chamber piece calls to mind the psychological complexity of Bergman. While another Frenchman, François Ozon, a favourite of the festival (his female emancipation comedy Potiche was a popular opener in 2011), brings The New Girlfriend. It’s a typically elegant offering from the prolific Ozon (this is his 15th feature in 16 years) focussing in on his favourite subject: the fluidity of human sexuality.

Equally industrious is Xavier Dolan, and we’d urge you to seek out his new film Mommy. Scottish audiences first got a glimpse of the young filmmaker’s distinct style when his debut, I Killed My Mother, screened at GFF in 2010. This latest emotionally raw and visually inventive drama (its playful use of aspect ratio will knock your socks off) is an exuberant companion-piece to that equally fraught debut.

Dolan’s film pivots on a feverish performance by Québécois firecracker Anne Dorval, and the festival programme is littered with films centred on similarly powerful female roles. There’s also Julianne Moore's turn as a professor afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice, which is likely to win her the best actress Oscar, while newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed anchors Catch Me Daddy, the blistering debut by brothers Daniel and Matthew Wolfe. As well as that, you've got the opportunity to see a dozen stunning performances from Golden Age icon Ingrid Bergman, including Gaslamp, Notorious and Casablanca, in retrospective 'Here’s Looking at You, Kid'.

GFF Clip Reel: a 90-second visual blast of what to expect at this year's festival

There’s also plenty of female talent behind the camera. Céline Sciamma adds another excellent coming-of-age film to her belt, following Water Lilies and Tomboy, with Girlhood, an energetic exploration of female friendship that’s both tough and touching; Carol Morley follows her celebrated quasi-documentary Dreams of a Life with The Falling, which stars Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams and is receiving comparisons to Picnic at Hanging Rock for its creepy atmosphere. Elsewhere, Mia Hansen-Løve proves herself one of the most exciting filmmakers working with Eden, her third knockout on the trot following The Father of My Children and Goodbye First Love.

Two other must-sees from female filmmakers are Appropriate Behaviour and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, both from first-time directors. The former, by Desiree Akhavan, is a raucous Brooklyn-set sex comedy that would make the girls from Girls blush; the latter, by Irainian-American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, is a black and white horror-western set in an otherworldly town in which a hijab-wearing female vampire stalks the streets ridding them of ne’er-do-wells – it might be the most idiosyncratic film of the year. Both are eligible for GFF’s inaugural Audience Award, for which GFF patrons will be asked to choose the standout from a shortlist of ten films from first or second-time directors.

As ever, special one-off events make up a large chunk of the programme. A Night at the Regal pays homage to O2 ABC's cinematic roots with special live scores from eagleowl, Monoganon and British Sea Power, while the city's Drygate Brewery is transformed into a 1970s roller disco for an on-wheels screening of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, part of the fun Nerdvana strand. Murder on the Orient Express, screening as part of the Ingrid Bergman retrospective, inspires a murder mystery party at the city’s historic Trades Hall. Improv comedy legend Paul Merton comes to GFF with musician Neil Brand to pay tribute to slapstick genius Buster Keaton, at the Old Fruitmarket. And you can get your groove on at Kelvingrove Museum for a sequin-studded screening of Baz Luhrmann’s camp Aussie classic Strictly Ballroom.

Guests already confirmed to attend the festival include Carol Morley, Cliff Curtis – one New Zealand’s most celebrated stars who’ll present his new film The Dark Horse – composer Ólafur Arnalds, and rising indie director David Robert Mitchell, whose John Carpenter-inspired horror film It Follows is another gem of the festival.

Launching the programme Allison Gardner, Glasgow Film Festival's co-director, said: “As ever, we’ve tried first and foremost to create a programme that our audiences will enjoy, and our Special Events strand in particular should be great fun for all.” Judging from this packed and eclectic programme, they look to have succeeded.

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